Dyslexia can be a gift.

I am part of a large family of right brain thinkers or what is more commonly known as “dyslexics”.  On my side alone there is my dad, sister, half-brother,  and myself that I am aware of. Then in my ex-husband’s family the list is huge: my ex-husband, my three kids, his dad, three of his brothers, one of his sisters and several of the grandchildren.

We have all had problems with reading, spelling, writing and school.  All of us have managed it in different ways.  Some more successfully than others.   My dad is a brilliant arbitrator who got through school and university creating his own methods to get around his reading problems.   My sister has been in charge of accounting departments, a CEO and an amazing contract negotiator to name but a few of her accomplishments.  I have helped create and run two construction businesses with no initial training either in construction, accounting or general management of a business.   We still own the second business and now have about 25 employees .   My ex-husband runs the company, my daughter is the general manager, my son is sales and marketing development and my other son heads up the fabricating and gate operator side of our business.   My children are in their twenties, the youngest is only twenty-five.  So despite the fact that my ex-husband has difficulty with reading and spelling,  I was a slow reader and had problems with abstract concepts,  my daughter could barely spell, read, write or do basic classroom work when she was in the sixth grade and the two boys had similar problems in school, we all overcame it.

My husband’s family relatives had varying experiences with dyslexia.   One of his brothers had problems with reading and writing coming out of high school but over the years found ways to teach himself and now is an avid reader.   He works in construction and laughs about how when he measures something he always has to measure twice, write it down and then make sure he wrote it correctly because he still reverses numbers.  One of his younger brothers who also had problems became a commercial fisherman with his own boats and crews.  We are now watching all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren to see how they handle their “right-brained” style of learning.

You are probably wondering when I am going to get to the part about dyslexia being a gift.  The people I have described have all been through horrible and humiliating experiences in school and terrified whether they would ever be able to read and write and have a normal life.   Many of them created their own systems to understand a “left-brained” world and not only went on to beat it but to succeed impressively.

The gift of dyslexia is having incredible problem solving skills due to being able to SEE the whole picture of any problem or situation.  This helps us to be adaptive with strong compensating abilities.  However this view of the world (inductive reasoning) is also what causes school to be so difficult because our school systems are based on a step-by-step learning approach (deductive reasoning) which never makes any sense to us.

If you are reading this and can relate to anything I have said just believe you are not alone. This term  “dyslexia” or more correctly “right-brained” can be handled and handled successfully.  There is no reason to view dyslexia only as a disability.   By learning the proper skills and understanding the right-brain learning style,  all of the issues related to dyslexia can be solved or minimized.  We are proud of our right-brained view of the world and our creative,  problem-solving,  productive and tenacious natures!

We invite you to check out our website devoted to finding teaching solutions for dyslexia at Dyslexia Victoria Online:

www.dyslexiavictoria.ca

24 thoughts on “Dyslexia can be a gift.

  1. Curious of mentoring and motivating/encouraging one that deals with dyslexia… due to my wife realizing she is suffering from this situation after 36 years with her family never bringing it to her attention. She now feels embarrassed and guilty because I have realized it, but I explained I want to help her more than anything.

  2. You are a wonderful partner! There are so many unfortunate aspects to Dyslexia but as a Dyslexic with many family members being the same, I am keenly aware of the positives. I always encourage our clients, children and adults, to embrace it and celebrate this mind set to help them conquer the problems. Your support, understanding and acceptance will mean everything to her and help her to accept it and find the desire to openly deal with it.
    If there is anything I can do to help, let me know!
    Blessings!
    Karey Hope

    • Can you give me an example of how to be honest with her when we discuss something without hurting her feelings. She struggles mainly with comprehension and learning, so when we discuss anything her feelings are hurt regardless it being a compliment or the blunt truth; she never realizes what the point is because she receives what she chooses to hear but still never comprehends the correct message. (ex. she will say “Chris I am happy you love me”. I will respond “I do and I am thankful for your happiness of my love”. Then she will create a dramatic scene by arguing that she never said anything about being happy or me loving her, while I have to explain to her that is where the conversation started. Or I will start things by stating she looks nice today and she begins to shed tears because she believes I think of her as being ugly and will ask where did that come from and her response will have to do with something that deals two different people and their conversation. Then I explain that has nothing to do with us or what we are talking about.)
      We have times of setting goals and agreeing on how to accomplish these goals but she runs from the challenge every time! Then I tell her it is wrong to quit, you are a failure to yourself by giving up when it is something you want to accomplish or when you are too scared to face your challenge each time you have to face it. I understand the truth can hurt, but you must learn from your mistakes and if you aren’t informed that you are making a mistake, you will see it as doing the correct thing. From her perspective, no one can understand or relate to what is taking place but I inform her time after time, when she pleads her case, I understand everything she is talking about. The problem still comes down to comprehension and learning; if she can’t realize the difference between help and humiliation then there will never be a form of growth. I’m sure changes can be made…?

  3. When I respond to people I like to take their questions/comments and put my answers below them so here we go:

    “Can you give me an example of how to be honest with her when we discuss something without hurting her feelings.”

    I am making the assumption that her feelings are hurt because her self-esteem and self-worth were seriously affected when she went through the school system. I cannot emphasize enough how damaging teachers, fellow students and specialists who analyze students with learning issues can be. These children are led to believe they are stupid and don’t fit in. It’s lonely, frightening, embarrassing and very threatening.

    To start to heal she needs to understand Dyslexia is a learning difference and our western school system did not address her needs. It would be like being plopped in a foreign country and expected to understand the language and what’s going on around her. To make it worse no one is effectively helping her to integrate into her new surroundings.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    “She struggles mainly with comprehension and learning, so when we discuss anything her feelings are hurt regardless it being a compliment or the blunt truth; she never realizes what the point is because she receives what she chooses to hear but still never comprehends the correct message. (ex. she will say “Chris I am happy you love me”. I will respond “I do and I am thankful for your happiness of my love”. Then she will create a dramatic scene by arguing that she never said anything about being happy or me loving her, while I have to explain to her that is where the conversation started.”

    Oh wow. Dyslexia or being more right brained dominant is a world view about information that prefers images over words initially. In other words, Dyslexics tend to think in images first before they find their words. A more left brained individual starts with words and then moves to images. This is a huge difference. Words can be very frustrating for a Dyslexic and can often come out differently from our intention. I have a poster that says “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, But I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

    Also she might have a condition that affects her auditory reception and processing when speaking. She would consequently have difficulty with speech and auditory reception. If you can you might want to consult a specialist for these problems. I don’t know specifically who you would go to but I often see issues like this with Dyslexics I have consulted with over the years. Start with her regular doctor for advice. Some universities are running studies about these difficulties and you might find a program that could test her. I believe you would be looking for psychology and medical programs studying how people use the left side of their brain for communication.

    One suggestion: When she feels you have misunderstood her, get a piece of paper and have her draw it out with pictures and also words if she wants to. The reason for this is to help her see what she was trying to say and what actually came out. (Look at my poster info above again) She has lived so long being misunderstood so she will be sensitive. Because so many people don’t get what she’s saying it will be very important that you as her husband gets her. She can then begin to recognize her verbal mistakes and work on her communication skills.

    Humor is important! I have practiced learning to laugh about it. For example, Dyslexics including myself will not get it when someone says something they are joking about and we think they mean it. How embarrassing! And you feel like an idiot. I will make jokes about it to deflect and calm myself down. I change to a position of humor in my brain and then I know to laugh. We are literal thinkers! Aargghhh!

    My sister, who is also dyslexic, and I laugh about this all the time. She is an executive and has often been humiliated in a meeting by missing someone making a funny. Another thing we complain about is how often people are talking and we have no idea what their point is. If they are talking about the details and not the big picture, we get lost.

    As a Dyslexic, I have been frustrated and very embarrassed by what comes out of my mouth my whole life and not always understanding what people say to me. I do workshops for Dyslexia and I always start by saying I’m Dyslexic and will make mistakes, lose track of where I am and can’t find words, especially names.

    As she realizes you get her and are supportive she will start to calm down. It takes time after a lifetime of torture.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    “Or I will start things by stating she looks nice today and she begins to shed tears because she believes I think of her as being ugly and will ask where did that come from and her response will have to do with something that deals two different people and their conversation. Then I explain that has nothing to do with us or what we are talking about.)”

    Dyslexics are literal. When you say “nice today” – does that mean she normally doesn’t look nice? What is less confusing is ” you always look so nice!”
    To emphasize, you are demonstrating you are beginning to know what she is dealing with so she is feeling safe to show her pain rather than hiding it.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    “We have times of setting goals and agreeing on how to accomplish these goals but she runs from the challenge every time!”

    I’m going to go all over the map on this point because so many things are occurring to me that relate to this issue. I hope you will forgive me.

    I need more explanation and/or examples. Goal setting needs to be big picture using mind maps. No lists!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are not sequential and a set of steps will be impossible. Start with the end result. Everything needs to be decided and thought about for how, what, when, where, why, etc. For example – cleaning the basement.

    Make a drawn out mind map of the “Big picture – cleaning the basement” – not a list
    – What does “cleaning” mean? ( reorganizing, throwing stuff away, building shelves to store stuff, etc)
    – What does “reorganizing” mean? (putting certain things in certain places, getting plastic tubs and storing stuff, labeling)
    – Throw what kind of things away?
    -What will we store on our shelves?

    Dyslexics are literal and don’t do lists! Teachers and parents insist the Dyslexic student change and be more “left brained”. Not fair! Then non-Dyslexics who don’t have our gifts and powers need to be more like us. Each of us comes with our own personal wiring.

    Going to Dyslexics having issues with general instructions versus specifics which occurs when project planning. We were working with a 15 year old Dyslexic. The mom was starting to understand her as a Dyslexic. She said her daughter had made herself something to eat and had left the dishes. She told her daughter to clean up the kitchen. Her daughter said what type of cleaning – sweep the floor, clean the counters, clean the fridge? What? That’s when the mom really got it. She told her daughter to clean up the dishes she had dirtied and her daughter was happy.

    We are literal and we think on many levels so we need exact instructions – not general.
    This should help your wife tremendously when working on projects.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    “Then I tell her it is wrong to quit, you are a failure to yourself by giving up when it is something you want to accomplish or when you are too scared to face your challenge each time you have to face it. I understand the truth can hurt, but you must learn from your mistakes and if you aren’t informed that you are making a mistake, you will see it as doing the correct thing. ”

    Sorry to be blunt but it’s not about quitting. Your approach is opposite to her process. We fail because we never learned to accomplish things our way. We were trained to do the opposite. It’s like forcing a leftie to use their right hand. Their brain is wired to do the opposite. Refer to my process above. Also Dyslexics tend to do things all over the place until eventually finishing. For example if you are cleaning your house a Dyslexic tends to do some of the dishes, goes and makes the beds, dumps garbage, goes back and wipes counters in kitchen, sweeps bedrooms, dust the living room, etc. We are big picture thinkers and we often get bored with a step by step process and get distracting by other things needing to be done. My husband refers to a line in a Paul McCartney song, “Uncle Albert” – “so easily drawn away”. When we shop he keeps me in front of him because I get distracted with LOL “shiny objects” and he can lose me.

    It’s not about learning from our failures. Without proper management of our mind set – it’s always about failing which is very discouraging. Soon we don’t want to try anything.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    “From her perspective, no one can understand or relate to what is taking place but I inform her time after time, when she pleads her case, I understand everything she is talking about. The problem still comes down to comprehension and learning; if she can’t realize the difference between help and humiliation then there will never be a form of growth. I’m sure changes can be made…?”

    She’s right. That’s why so many Dyslexics who never learn to understand themselves suffer from constant failure and often the inability to hold a job. So help has to come in the form of learning to do things her way.
    ________________________________________________________________________

    Success is possible!! If you can, let me talk to her. She needs to know first she’s ok and needs to learn to work with her learning style and be herself. Also the more you understand what she can and can’t do, you will be less frustrated.

    As a Dyslexic I think very fast, in multiple tangents, constantly problem solving and visually. I will often find left brain, list making, step by step, can’t think visually people drive me nuts. I have developed my right brain thinking style to be powerful and effective but I have also learned my limitations and accepted them. I accommodate my weaknesses, laugh at them. My husband accepts my needs, processing and foibles and I accept HIS. To me it’s important to realize we are all individuals trying to fit into a world of different thinking people and ever changing technology and communication systems.

    Another suggestion, my husband and I have seen a therapist over the years to constantly develop our communication skills. I find another trained view point is very helpful.

    Hope this helps!
    Cheers!
    Karey

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